Culture Japan went on air last Saturday (2010/6/12) in Japan on Tokyo MX TV. Even though I was at home preparing to watch it, I got that nervous feeling that one gets just before giving a talk ^^;
The planning and production of Culture:Japan took months and was to be the first TV show that I directed and presented on. Today we are going to cover how it all began and look behind the scenes at the filming and production.
Update! Trailer for Culture:Japan 1 below!
It all started at the beginning of the year when I was featured on a TV show about Japanese Pop Culture called O-Japan Senryaku.
O-Japan Senryaku was produced by Fujiyasu-san who I first met when he invited me to be on one of the previous shows he worked on called Blog TV.
Shortly after the O-Japan Senryaku show went on air in this January, I discussed with Fujiyasu-san the possibilities of a TV show which would not only be broadcast in Japan but worldwide too.
The show would cover Japanese Pop Culture and feature contents that folks in and outside of Japan would enjoy.
One of my visions for the show is to have dannychoo.com readers worldwide share their interests in Japanese Pop Culture with folks in Japan. In the first episode of Culture:Japan we look at your bedroom intros and hope to get you more involved for future episodes.
The show was tentatively called "Danny TV" which sounded fine in Japanese but incredibly cheesy in my mind ^^; I wanted the name of the show to immediately reflect the contents of the show which is why I decided on "Culture:Japan."
I came up with the title by seeing what it would look like as a logo in Illustrator - I then move words around and "Culture" ended up being in front of "Japan" - it looked and sounded good so went with it.
The head of Tokyo MX TV liked the idea and approved the show to be aired sometime later in the year. It was then time to look for a sponsors to cover production.
Apart from some anime or drama titles, it seems that there hasn't been a TV show which has been broadcast on Japanese terrestrial TV and overseas at the same time. The new concept TV show meant that it would be difficult to get sponsors on board and indeed it was - involved many presentations over the course of a few months - there was a point where it looked like nobody was interested.
As with all TV production, cash is needed to pay the staff who work on the show and also cover the broadcasting fees that all TV stations need to cough up. You can read more about broadcasting fees in the Tokyo Tower post.
Was given an on-air date for Tokyo MX TV on the presumption that we were to find sponsors - but we didn't have enough cash yet!
But we were passionate about the project and kept at it - then finally managed to rummage enough moolah to start production on the show. Many of the sponsors were companies that I already work with like Good Smile, Cospa and AmiAmi.
For the next few weeks, a packed schedule of filming and editing until the early morning hours pursued.
Somewhere in between, I spoke with Animax Asia and we came to agreement to air the show on their network. I'm currently taking every opportunity to speak to TV networks worldwide to get the show aired in your neck of the woods too.
This photo taken in January where we would meet regularly to discuss the contents of the show.
We got to see some live action K-ON! in the after school music activities.
You can see a load of photos posted in the articles below.
Fujisawa High School Photos 1
Fujisawa High School Photos 2
And the video that we took for YouTube below. Some of this footage was also used in Culture:Japan.
The Tokyo MX TV version was only 30 mins so we unfortunately had to cut lot. The filming at the school alone was over 3 hours. We cut out the classroom cleaning for the Japanese version as this is the norm over here and thought that it wouldn't be so interesting for Japanese viewers.
Classroom cleaning will be in the Animax Asia version which is an hour long where we will also be able to feature more of your bedroom videos that you posted on Figure.fm.
Have known the boss of Good Smile Aki Takanori for quite a while now and its always a pleasure to be able to work with his company on the various projects like the Good Smile website, Tokyo Figure show in Harajuku, Tokyo Figure Show in Singapore and Mirai Figma.
Got a load of Black Rock Shooter stuff in the show including footage of how decoration masters are made.
And here we take a look at Mirai Figma being modeled in 3D. Had no idea what I was doing and ended up giving Mirai-chan horns! A horny Mirai-chan would be fine but a Mirai-chan with a horn would no be so fine and we would have to reprint all the Mirai-chan dakimakura.
Filming at Akihabara for Digital Hollywood was a load of fun. Always wanted to take Saber out n about Akiba. You can see photos taken during the day in the Japanese Universities photo article.
And then its time for more photoshopping. Me got a load of gray hairs of late but cant be bothered to do the hair dye thing. Used to dye my hair brown when I was in my early twenties though. Hair dying has detrimental effects on the body including liver damage!
My makeup artists uses some shiny spray which reflects the lights in the studio to hide those gray strands.
How many of you dye your hair?
The set has 4 cameras - one pointing at the whole set, two on each presenter and one that points at various props.
There are folks in a separate room who controls the switching of the cameras where film is recorded onto a master branch. They communicate with the producer who is in this case Fujiyasu-san.
Footage on other cameras is still available for the actual editing of the show.
Invited folks to join the shenanigans in the studio through Twitter - if you are interested in being called up for stuff like this then follow my Twitter ^o^
More daughters join us on set and I help some of them get ready. Many of these girls belong to comrades who work at Ascii.
Satomi Sato and Fujiyasu-san going over the script.
Satomi Sato is the voice actress for Ritsu from K-ON. She also does the voice for all the characters of my new anime series Chinka - full production starting soon!
Satomi-chan took time out of her busy schedule to be with us and could only be in the studio for a couple of hours. Satomi is such a charming character and look forward to working with her when production for Chinka starts. Closer photo of Satomi-chan and I in the Culture:Japan post.
This is the monitor that Satomi and I watch when the VTR plays. VTR stands for "Video Tape Recording" and refers to recordings made at different locations. In the industry its also just called "V" .
VTR that has been prepared by a freelance editing studio or provided by a PR company is called "Kanpake-Ire" which is short for "完全パケージ入れ."
Final Cut Pro is used for the editing and a separate software used for the font effects. Also used Adobe After Effects for some of the transitions.
With Final Cut we was able to access footage taken from the other cameras in the studio which are all in sync with the master branch.
Spent some very late nights editing in the studio. After directing this show and seeing whats involved, I now look at TV shows, commercials and movies with new insight which gives me further ideas on what and how to direct more shows in the future.
This is where all the sound effects, narration, music layering and sound balancing happens. Broadcasted a bit of this from the iPhone which some of you may have seen on my TwitCasitng via my Twitter account.
The result of the MA session is a CD with the soundtrack - its then layered on in Final Cut Pro and then we work on the subtitles. Today we work on the Japanese subtitles for parts of the show which I speak in English.
For the worldwide version we need to work on adding English subtitles for the Japanese bits in the studio.
For folks who have either of the Otacool may notice that it was in Engrish - that's because (which I've mentioned quite a few times) all I do is bring you and Kotobukiya together - they work on the production of the book and wanted to use their own Engrish staff ^^;
Culture:Japan however is my baby and as the Director, I'll make sure that English is used instead of Engrish ^^;
And then after a few months of blood n sweat and sleepless nights, we go on air. Producer Fujiyasu-san and Ken are over to watch with us. Ken worked on the opening visuals of the show which was complimented extremely well by the soundtrack from Vividblaze. They will also be doing the soundtrack when Culture:Japan is made into a full series.